AP Wire Michigan Sports

No. 25 Michigan Wolverines football team aims to keep momentum flowing vs. Northern Illinois

AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — No. 25 Michigan has earned some momentum and has no plans to slow down against Northern Illinois.
The Wolverines (2-0) began the season unranked and with relatively low expectations from outside the program for Jim Harbaugh’s seventh season. They have started to change the conversation with a strong start so far, routing Washington and Western Michigan with a run-heavy offense and swarming defense.
Michigan will have to do more than beat Northern Illinois (1-1) on Saturday and against Rutgers next week at home to win everyone over. But perhaps those games will prepare the Wolverines for the Oct. 2 test at No. 18 Wisconsin.
Entering the game at the Big House, Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock has been telling his players they have a great opportunity.
“Nobody gives you a chance, so there’s no pressure whatsoever,” Hammock said. “The only thing that you should feel is, ‘Can I go out there and play my best and get Michigan to respect and recognize who we are as a football program?’ That should be the excitement. Embrace it.”
Harbaugh, meanwhile, tells anyone who will listen to respect the Huskies after beating Georgia Tech and rallying from a 26-point deficit against Wyoming before coming up short.


thern Illinois QB Rocky Lombardi is set to play at Michigan Stadium for a third time.
The transfer led Michigan State to a 27-23 win over the Wolverines last year, throwing for a career-high 323 yards and three touchdowns. Lombardi also made his college debut at Michigan Stadium three years ago.
Lombardi tossed a touchdown pass to Tyrice Richie and passed for a 2-point conversion with 38 seconds left in the opener, lifting the Huskies to a win at Georgia Tech. He threw three interceptions in the loss to Wyoming, but Hammock noted two of those passes were deflected.

The Wolverines ran the ball 52 times, keeping it for 34-plus minutes against Washington last week. They easily won time of possession and Harbaugh noted that’s not easy for a no-huddle team to do.
“Possession is nine-tenths of the law, so when you can have more than them, it’s a good thing,” Harbaugh said.
Michigan has had the luxury of leaning heavily on its run game with two dynamic running backs and an offensive line that has gelled.
Blake Corum, the Big Ten offensive player of the week, has 282 yards rushing in two games to rank No. 8 in the country and Hassan Haskins has run for 225 yards.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Michigan State Spartans underdogs at No. 24 Miami

AP Sports Writer
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Michigan State’s offense has been a surprise this season.
So has Miami’s, in a very different way.
The Spartans (2-0) are moving the football more easily than they have in years, and they’ll look to keep that going on Saturday when they visit No. 24 Miami (1-1) in their first matchup in more than 30 years.
Michigan State has put up at least 38 points in back-to-back regular season games for the first time since 2015 and has topped the 500-yard mark in consecutive games for the first time since 2014. Plus, the Spartans have led for nearly an impossible 99.7% of the time in their first two games — after getting 75-yard touchdowns on the opening play of each contest.
“Obviously, we want to be efficient when we run the plays,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “The plays are drawn up to be successful, not to fail.”
The Hurricanes averaged 440 yards of offense per game last season and 6 yards per play; so far this season, they’re averaging 320.5 yards of offense and 4.6 yards per play. Granted, playing No. 1 Alabama in the opener skews those numbers considerably — but Miami heard plenty of boos from its home fans last week when it had to squeak out a 25-23 win over Appalachian State on a late field goal from Andres Borregales.
“We have to play a lot better,” Miami quarterback D’Eriq King said.
Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III has provided a huge lift for Michigan State, with 321 rushing yards already this season. He’s gotten 30 carries in the two games for the Spartans and was stopped for a loss only once.
“He’s explosive, he’s got good vision, he’s got very good ball skills, plays with really good toughness,” Tucker said. “And getting to know him, he’s a first-class individual. He’s very high character, unselfish, team-oriented player and those are the types of players we need here that can help us be successful.”

Youngstown State’s Jaleel McLaughlin, center, is stopped by Michigan State defenders, including Quavaris Crouch, left, and Jacub Panasiuk, right, on Saturday in East Lansing. (AP photo)
AP Wire Michigan Sports

Derek Hill hits Detroit Tigers’ game winner in 11th inning of 1-0 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday

Associated Press
DETROIT — Derek Hill hit a leadoff RBI double in the 11th inning, giving the Detroit Tigers a 1-0 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday night and snapping the Brewers’ five-game win streak.
After the game, Hill had to try to explain to his teammates why he had slid into second base as Victor Reyes was trotting home with the winning run.
“It was just instinct,” Hill said. “I’m trying to give the guys in the clubhouse a better story, but I forgot the game was over and kept going.”
The Brewers loaded the bases with one out against Bryan Garcia (2-1) in the 11th before Christian Yelich grounded into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the inning, Hill fell behind 0-2 while trying to bunt Victor Reyes to third, then lined Hunter Strickland’s next pitch into right-center for the game-winning hit.
The Tigers had a good chance in the ninth inning. Brewers closer Josh Hader walked Jonathan Schoop, Robbie Grossman and Miguel Cabrera to load the bases with one out, and then struck out Jeimer Candelario and Eric Haase to force extra innings.
The game started as a pitching duel between Wily Peralta and Freddy Peralta. They each put up six scoreless innings in less than 90 minutes. Detroit’s Alex Lange was coming out of the bullpen to pitch the seventh when the game was stopped for a 1 hour, 49 minutes due to rain.

The Tigers’ Willi Castro greets Robbie Grossman next to Seattle Mariners catcher Tom Murphy after they scored on Grossman’s two-run homer in the sixth inning on June 10 in Detroit. (AP file photo)
AP Wire Michigan Sports

Detroit Tigers stymie Milwaukee Brewers’ hitters for 2nd straight day Wednesday, 4-1

Associated Press
DETROIT — Dustin Garneau homered and drove in two runs, rookie Matt Manning combined with the bullpen on a three-hitter and the Detroit Tigers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 on Wednesday to complete a two-game sweep.
Milwaukee’s magic number to clinch the NL Central remained at five after they dropped a pair to the Tigers following a five-game winning streak.
The Brewers were limited to seven hits in the series, and Lorenzo Cain’s RBI double in the second inning was the only extra-base hit.
“We didn’t spin the bats well in these two games in Detroit,” manager Craig Counsell said. “I can’t put my finger on it, we just didn’t perform well offensively.”
Garneau knocked in the go-ahead run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly. He lofted his fourth homer with two out in the seventh.
Derek Hill, who drove in the lone run in Detroit’s victory Tuesday, supplied an RBI triple. Miguel Cabrera added a run-scoring double.
Manning (4-6) gave up a run on two hits and struck out a career-high six over six innings in his 15th start. He collected his first victory since Aug. 12 while the Tigers notched their fifth win in six games.
“We’ve played a pretty good brand of baseball for awhile,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll have a mishap here or there. … We obviously played pretty well this week and answered some challenges against a really good pitching staff, a couple of games where we had to scratch and claw to get our runs.”
Manning got out of a bases-loaded jam after giving up the run in the second, then allowed only one more baserunner.

The Tigers’ Robbie Grossman, right, slides safely into home plate to score as Milwaukee Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez waits for the throw in the fourth inning in Detroit on Wednesday. (AP photo)
AP Wire Michigan Sports

Michigan Wolverines brings running game back to the forefront

AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — Jim Harbaugh seems to have his best running game in seven seasons at Michigan, rotating two speedy and powerful backs behind an offensive line that has been opening huge holes.
The Wolverines were so effective at moving the ball on the ground in a 31-10 win over Washington that they had 56 rushing carries for 343 yards and chose to throw just 15 times for 44 yards.
Harbaugh said he heard “a little bit of noise,” about it with fans clamoring for the team to throw more and run less.
“There’s a lot of ways to travel,” he said Monday. “Some people choose to travel on the ground, some people by air. George Patton was able to get his job done on the ground. Neil Armstrong through the air. Last Saturday night, we chose to grind it out on the ground and were also able to get our mission accomplished.”
No. 25 Michigan (2-0) will likely lean on its ground attack at home again against Northern Illinois (1-1) on Saturday.
Even though the Wolverines are off to a strong start and may not be underdogs until they play Oct. 2 at No. 18 Wisconsin, they will be measured by how they fare against No. 9 Ohio State at the end of the regular season.
No one knows that more than Harbaugh, who is winless as a coach against the rival Buckeyes. Reflecting the importance of The Game, he changed the name of the team’s running drill that stacks seven defenders in a small space against an offense without wide receivers.
“Years prior, we’d call it a 9-on-7, which is what the drill is,” offensive guard Trevor Keegan said. “But this year, we changed it to the ‘Beat Ohio’ drill.’ Now we’re blasting music, smelling salts, everything. It’s a pretty physical period. We love it.”
Ohio State has won a school-record eight straight against Michigan, including a 56-27 rout two years ago in the last matchup, and 15 of the last 16 meetings.
Buckeyes coach Ryan Day has a “Team Up North Drill,” and now the Harbaugh has been inspired to dub a part of practice that shows how much that game means to him.
“It kind of came along with the whole tradition of, ‘What are you doing to beat Ohio State every day?’” center Andrew Stueber said. “Kind of taking that rivalry into focus every day.”

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Detroit Lions have plenty of places to look when making fixes

Associated Press
DETROIT — The problem facing Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell isn’t finding things to fix.
It is deciding where to start.
The Lions trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-10 at halftime and 41-17 with two minutes left before a late charge brought them within 41-33.
Campbell said watching the game film didn’t make the game look much better than it had seemed in real time.
“There was nothing that surprised me,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up, but the positive is that we can clean them up. We missed on a lot of little things, and if we do those little things, we’re probably going to win a game.”

The running back combination of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift had 93 yards on 20 carries, but also helped when the Lions had to throw the ball after falling so far behind. Swift caught eight passes for 65 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown on a screen pass, while Williams had eight catches for 56 yards.

The vertical passing game was almost nonexistent against the 49ers. Until the desperate last few minutes, Jared Goff was checking everything down to the running backs and tight ends. T.J. Hockenson is a big part of the Lions offense, so his eight catches for 97 yards and a score is a positive, but no wide receiver had more than three receptions.

Rookie tackle Penei Sewell had to make a late switch from right tackle to left after Taylor Decker sustained a finger injury. That meant making his regular-season debut against 49ers star Nick Bosa, but the 20-year-old held his own.
“He’s going to be good,” Bosa told reporters after the game. “He’s more comfortable on the left. I could tell. The tape I saw on the right was … I told him after the game, he’s better on the left and he’s more comfortable on the left. He’s going to be a solid player, for sure.”

Lions head coach Dan Campbell talks to side judge Dominique Pender on Sunday in Detroit. (AP photo)

Cornerback Jeff Okudah was hoping to bounce back after a rough rookie season in 2020. Instead, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft was beaten badly on a long touchdown pass, then sustained a season-ending Achilles injury.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Big 10 coaches like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh diligent in keeping track of players’ redshirt status

AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — Jim Harbaugh has a lot on his plate at Michigan, leading college football’s winningest team that is desperately seeking another level of success.
Harbaugh has to delegate a lot, as all coaches do, but he personally handles how the program uses the four-game redshirt rule for each player potentially eligible to get another season.
“I manage that,” Harbaugh said. “Track each player’s amount of games.”
College football players are allowed to compete in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt season, maintaining four years of eligibility under NCAA legislation in place since 2018. Before that year, being on the field for a snap in one game could cost a player an entire year of eligibility.
Three years ago, Minnesota coach PJ Fleck said it was the greatest NCAA rule in two decades. But like a lot of things during the pandemic, decisions on redshirts have become more complex this season due to a slew of variables.
For the first time this season, the NCAA is giving football players the freedom to transfer once and be immediately eligible to play. That game-changing rule, coupled with the free year of eligibility players were given in 2020 due to COVID-19, has complicated redshirting.
There are also other factors to consider. Players may leave school early for the NFL and the NCAA may potentially let schools have more than 25 scholarships for incoming football recruits each year.
Fleck said there will be teams that lose about half their roster in a year, changing the way coaches manage redshirting.
“We want to play these guys in four,” Fleck said. “But the roster management part of that — of who’s leaving, who’s staying and the fluidity of that — is very different this year than it normally has been. I think it’s harder to do that than it’s ever been. But if we’ve got guys who can play, we’re going to play ‘em.”
Ultimately, that’s the case with every coach in college football.
Players in any class can be redshirted and injuries can lead to getting an extra season of eligibility, but the four-game rule mostly applies to first-year players. And if a freshman can earn a spot on the two-deep roster and help the team win — and improve job security for coaches — he will play more than four games.
If not, coaches aim to map out a plan to get third- and fourth-string players experience in up to four games.
“If somebody is not in that two-deep, ideally you’d like to get them some action early,” Harbaugh said. “Get them some experience and see if there’s somebody who’s going to work their way into the two-deep.”
Michigan State’s Mel Tucker found that someone in 2018, his final season as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs planned to redshirt defensive lineman Jordan Davis that year as a freshman, putting him on the field in just two of their first four games.
“He started off on our scout team and he was giving our huge offensive line some problems,” Tucker recalled. “He ended up playing a key role for a team that played for the SEC championship.”
Nebraska coach Scott Frost might have his redshirt management tested with true freshman Teddy Prochazka. He is listed as the No. 3 left offensive tackle, was on the travel roster for the opener at Illinois, played 29 snaps against Fordham and eight against Buffalo.
Frost said coaches are in conversations about the 6-foot-9, 305-pound Prochazka getting more playing time.
“If the decision is easy, there is not much of a conversation,” Frost said. “If the decision is a little harder, we involve the player and sometimes the player’s family, too, to decide what they want to do if we get to that point.”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh signals for first down on the sideline against Washington in Ann Arbor on Saturday. (AP photo)
AP Wire Michigan Sports

Michigan State Spartans roll past Youngstown State, 42-14

EAST LANSING (AP) — Payton Thorne threw for four touchdowns, including two long strikes to Jayden Reed, and ran for another score as Michigan State rolled to a 42-14 victory over Youngstown State on Saturday.
Thorne connected with Reed on Michigan State’s first play from scrimmage, the second straight game in which the Spartans scored from 75 yards out on its opening play.
They also combined on an 85-yard score during the second quarter. Thorne completed 15 of 21 passes for 280 yards.
Reed caught four passes for 181 yards, while Jordon Simmons rushed for 140 yards on 19 carries for the Spartans (2-0), who led 35-7 at halftime.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Jeimer Candelario hits 2 homers, Robbie Grossman draws walk-off walk in Detroit Tigers’ 11-inning win over Tampa Bay

Associated Press
DETROIT — Robbie Grossman drew a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning, Jeimer Candelario homered twice, and the Detroit Tigers pulled out an 8-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
The walk issued by J.P. Feyereisen (4-4) brought in Victor Reyes.
“I was swinging (with the count) 3-1,” Grossman said. “I wanted to get another chance to get a good pitch to hit but I saw it as a ball out of his hand.”
Candelario’s second homer, a two-run shot, tied the game in the 10th after the Rays took a 7-5 lead in the top of the inning. Kyle Funkhouser (7-3) pitched a scoreless inning to pick up the win.
Yandy Diaz doubled twice and drove in three runs for Tampa Bay. Brett Phillips, activated off the 10-day injured list earlier in the day, hit a two-run homer during the Rays’ four-run eighth. Nelson Cruz also hit his 31st homer for TB.
The AL East-leading Rays dropped two of three at Detroit, their first series loss since Aug. 13-15 at Minnesota.
Candelario’s first homer gave Detroit a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Phillips’ two-run homer and Yandy Diaz’s two-run double in the eighth put them in front, 5-2.
The Tigers tied it in the bottom of the inning on Miguel Cabrera’s two-run single and Phillips’ throwing error from right field, which allowed pinch-runner Derek Hill to score.
“We did a nice job of hanging in there all the way to the end,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “So proud of them for responding after the four-spot, which was a gut punch. In the end, we outplayed ‘em.”
Kevin Kiermaier had an RBI groundout after Diaz’s 10th-inning double. Candelario tied it once again with his two-out, two-run blast.
“It’s always great to put the barrel on the ball and contribute,” Candelario said.

The Tigers’ Robbie Grossman, middle, is congratualted by teammates after walking in the winning run with the bases loaded against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 11th inning Sunday in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
AP Wire Michigan Sports

Michigan Wolverines handle Washington on Saturday, 31-10

ANN ARBOR (AP) — Blake Corum sprinted for a 67-yard touchdown to give Michigan a double-digit lead in the second quarter, one play after Jim Harbaugh called for a fake punt and the Wolverines pulled away to beat Washington 31-10 Saturday night.
Michigan (2-0) relied on a tandem of running backs, swarming defense and special teams to take and keep control of the game.
The Huskies (0-2) have lost their first two games — including the opener to Montana — for the first time since 2008 when they finished 0-12.
Corum ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns, a week after he had 111 yards rushing and scored twice in the season-opening rout over Western Michigan.
Hassan Haskins had 155 yards rushing and a score for the Wolverines, whose passing game was limited without injured receiver Ronnie Bell.
The Wolverines were not moving the ball much and led just 3-0 early in the second quarter when Harbaugh made a gamble that paid off.
With the punt team on the field facing a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 30, a short snap went to Michael Barrett and he ran 3 yards for a first down. Corum ran through a huge hole on the next play and he ran past the secondary to give the Wolverines a 10-0 lead.